Saturday, May 31, 2008

Revisiting the Subject of High Gas Prices in a Slowing Economy in an Election Year:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Having just paid the most I have ever paid for a gallon of gas today{1}, I was thinking again about the issue of gas prices -having written on this matter twice before on this weblog. Readers interested in the rationale behind why what most recommend for fixing this problem would not work may find these two threads to be of interest:

On the High Gas Prices and the Economics Therein (circa September 10, 2005)

Miscellaneous Musings (circa May 30, 2007)

As those are both two lengthier treatments (with the second one building a bit on the first), with this one I want to remind readers of those threads and propose a simple schema for getting this gas issue under control both for long term as well as short term.

For the long term, we need more refineries as I said in both of those postings. We will never increase supply of gas and thus lower prices without increasing our refinery capacity. That about 20% of our gas comes to us from overseas refineries should tell us that something is seriously problematical here.

So the building of a few more refineries should be green lighted as soon as possible to be built within the next year. Furthermore, the environmentalist lobby needs to be made to stuff it up their pieholes and this should be done outside of EPA guidelines. The addition of refineries will alleviate the pinch in the supply chain and enable us to refine all of our own gasoline. That means less "dependence" on foreign refineries. The next step is drilling.

We need to drill more in ANWR and along our coastlines. Again, the environmentalists need to stuff it in their pieholes on this because this whole notion of us being "dependent on foreign oil" is a sham and everyone knows it. But even with these things should they happen would be a year, two years, or three down the road. What can be done in the immediate short term for alleviating the economical pinch??? Simple, there is the issue of gas taxes.

I know I said gas taxes should be rolled back about fifty cents a gallon back in the 2005 posting and at least fifty cents or more in last year's posting. But frankly, I am not in that good a mood anymore. Roughly half of the price of a gallon of gas is federal and state taxes. And there is no shortage of governmental waste at both federal and state levels. I therefore propose not a stupid "gas tax holiday" to save 18 cents a gallon as Senator McCain and Senator Clinton have endorsed but instead a rolling back of all gasoline taxes until at least the time that the other measures of a long term nature can be implemented if not indefinitely. That alone would half the price of gas from where it is now.

Before I hear any complaints about how this would create or inflate budgetary deficits, I do not believe for an instant that our lazy "public servants" either at the state or federal levels cannot find budget cuts to alleviate the additional deficit that would result. We all know they can they are just too lazy or otherwise beholden to selfish special interest groups. But the common good should in the mind of any person with a normal intact functioning brain and a conscience take precedence over individual whims. And on this matter the health of the whole economy and the offsetting of a potential recession this year means doing something that could impact prices on goods all across the board.

Everything that is tangible requires fuel to get where it needs to go to be sold so the cost of fuel impacts the cost of everything you can imagine.{2} I will not go into the whole ethanol controversy pertaining to fuel at this time{3} except to note that this is another area which impacts the cost of every gallon of gasoline.

It is funny to think how five years ago I bristled at the notion of paying even $2.00 a gallon{4} but when all factors are accounted for,{5} $2.00 a gallon is really not that unreasonable. But as long as there is no attempt to get a solid and realistic short and long-term plan executed to deal with the rising costs of fuel, the likelihood of the slowing economy becoming a recession increase dramatically. And any politician who would let this happen for the sake of political advantage would deserve in my mind to be taken out back and shot. But I digress.


{1} $4.18 a gallon: only the third time I have exceeded $4.00 a gallon thus far and certainly not the last I am sure.

{2} But of particular focus is the cost of diesel gas and I say this as someone who does not own a diesel fueled vehicle. Diesel fuel affects the entire trucking and shipping industry and at $5.00 a gallon in areas, this is a major factor in the inflation of consumer goods across the board -though most people do not realize it because not as many drive diesel vehicles or consider that most semis which ship products to stores are powered by diesel fuel.

{3} I want this post to be reasonably economical after all.

{4} My reason was mainly knowing how much of that cost was gas taxes also along with how that money was wasted at the state and federal levels. But it also was remembering how much cheaper gasoline used to be.

{5} A subject beyond the intention of this posting though I may write on it another time.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

In doing a bit of perusing some of the weblogs we read most often, it was brought to our attention by Beth at the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy about an injustice being committed in Yemen. She asked readers to review the site of someone named Jane for more details so we are linking to it now for the benefit of the readers of this humble weblog.

In reviewing those threads, we were reminded of the very sorts of freedoms often taken for granted at times in America and in other places-a bit of which we wrote on recently in a Memorial Day remembrance. And while we are not sure how much it will help, we have nonetheless sent a letter and affixed our names to the petition for freedom of speech in Yemen hoping that somehow it may be of assistance to this brave journalist as well as his fellow countrymen even if only in the form of moral support.

It is our hope here at Rerum Novarum that other readers either from America or other nations where freedom of the press is in varying measures recognized will also send some letters and sign the petition also: a small step perhaps but better than doing nothing at all.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Memorial Day:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[Prefatory Note: This was mostly composed yesterday in a few spare moments but I was not able to arrange and finish it until just now. -ISM]

A day like yesterday is supposed to be different from the average day -though to many it was another day off of work or another barbecue or whatever. What is often forgotten or otherwise given short shrift is recognizing the purpose of the national holiday before us -something I will try and briefly articulate here for those who may be interested.

The American Revolution was unique in the course of the modern world in that it was the first revolution founded on ideas as opposed to the arbitrary whim of one sovereign or another. I have explained my view on the matter of ideas before including the seriousness of them before in these words:

[A]s far as I am concerned, arguing for a position on its intrinsic merits or lack thereof utilizing the tools of reason and logic is a serious business and far too many of a sophistic bent either do not realize this or they fail to take seriously the principle that ideas are serious things. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 26, 2006)]

Though intended generally speaking as a posting on enunciating certain universal or general principles, that posting was also addressed or otherwise highlighted a particular individual at a given period in time.{1} But that point aside, my intention of raising the issue again is to point out the principle espoused above as well as the importance of ideas that people should have pertaining to them.{2}

The ideas that the United States of America was founded on were ones that those who asserted them were willing to fight and die for. New Hampshire today has as its state slogan "live free or die" and that sums up what the Founders had in mind when they summed up before affixing their signatures to the Declaration of Independence the following solemn formulary:

[F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. [LINK]

One can judge the seriousness of an idea by the willingness of its proponents to suffer for their advocacy of it. I have explained before the seriousness of ideas that people should have{3} and why as long as there are people of principle and ethics, there will always be recognition of the "sacred right of insurrection" (cf. Chesterton) as a corrective in the event that nothing else is viably feasible.

But I do not intend to note the importance of upholding that right at all times -even if its usage at a given time can and should be subject to dispute. Nor do I intend to point out as I have at other times why the idea of outlawing war completely has as its logical corollary the inability to resist totalitarianism in its many faces: not a few of which are unrecognizable to the casual person. All of that is for another day. Yesterday was a day for remembering those who have through use of that sacred right down through the generations made the ultimate sacrifice and preserved for us Americans the nation we have today.

The framing of the Constitutional form of government we have today -however neglected some of its precepts happen to be in given epochs{4} including the present day{5}- was achieved through vote and not through a military coup. This is a fascinating part of history particularly when you consider that the Founders were not of one mind on many matters.{6} And while I intend to post soon a thread written many months ago on some of what we need to regain a proper sense of politically in America{7}, memorial day and reflections on its significance are not a day of going into those sorts of details. Nor is it the time to recognize the marvelous system we have devised here overall{8} except at best indirectly. Instead, we should be recognizing those who have fought and died to insure that we continue to exist and as much as possible subsist{9} as a nation.

Words fail me to be able to sum up with adequate gratitude my profound esteem for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live in what is still the freest nation on earth. Maybe that is all I can ultimately say except of course to ask that the Merciful Lord grant unto them all a place of refreshment, light, and that peace which the world cannot give. I will end now with a reworking of a prayer I posted back in 2006 on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor{10} and hope that those reading this post take it to heart every bit as much as I do.

Father, remember in your mercy all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and security of others both recently and in years past. We have in mind with this petition those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in the current fight against religious zealotry much as in years past who fought the monsters of totalitarian communism and its twin leftist scourge fascism. and all who have kept this nation secure and free from the time of her founding. In your mercy, grant peace to all your children in every nation on earth. We praise you and thank you in Jesus' name. Amen.


{1} I do not intend to revisit any of that posting from the personal angle: something I want to note here so that readers do not email me on that matter.

{2} People have fought for ideas, they have died for ideas, and this has not only not changed in the present but these things still occur. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 26, 2006)]

{3} Therefore, what someone is willing to involve themselves in (should they set foot into the arena of ideas) should be focused on primary or serious matters and not secondary or ancillary griping. What interests me is the discipline of the dialogue.

I am willing to consider for engagement on various and sundry issues anyone else who shows a similar concern for what that entails. I am also interested in productive dialogue which means getting beyond the useless back and forth exchanges[...] where no one is willing to put their foundational presuppositions on the line and reapprise them at regular intervals. The latter is a process that by its very nature must involve respecting the faculties of reason and logic. That means one has to consider from time to time not only if the arguments they use to advance their position are good ones or not but even if their position itself is actually correct. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 26, 2006)]

{4} To note two of the threads from our archive on this matter for purposes of demonstration in order from oldest to newest:

On Slavery and the Founding Fathers of America (circa April 17, 2007)

On Being Fair to Historical Figures in General and Revisiting the Subject of Slavery in American History (circa October 25, 2007)

{5} On Fundamental Rights, Common Law Principles, and Abortion (circa February 1, 2007)

{6} For example, the subject of slavery (see the threads in footnote four).

{7} This thread I have mentioned many times over the months having in store for posting as well as previously when it was being either conceived of or written.

{8} Despite certain flaws which I could point out another time that are in need of constant focus for improvement thereof.

{9} There is a distinction with a difference between something that exists and something that subsists: a topic for another time perhaps.

{10} Prayer in Remembrance of the Soldiers of Pearl Harbor (circa December 7, 2006)

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Chris:

As I noted late last week, I planned to touch on this subject on the anniversary of Chris' birthday but it seemed inappropriate to do so in light of the passing of my great aunt two days before. And if I did a remembrance thread on every day of the year where there was someone in my family in recent years who had passed on -either their birthday or the anniversary of their passing- then that would involve a lot of postings and a lot of depression. For that reason, I touch on very few of them regularly and others occasionally except on the annual All Souls remembrance where quite the list is posted.

Chris was a special case for me though due to a variety of reasons -the closeness of our tie for one and the way in which our lives played out for another. I could say more but will instead note the previous threads below for your perusal if interested. And while each has some different material in it than the others, the thread from 2005 is the most complete of the threads -encapsulating some of my remembrances of him when he was alive and also though the passing of time has helped somewhat with regrets that in some form or another I will probably always have. Without further ado...

Musings on Chris DiSomma's Birthday (circa May 23, 2007)

Remembering Chris DiSomma a Year After His Passing (circa December 11, 2006)

Remembering Chris DiSomma Three Days After His Passing (circa November 26, 2005)

Let these threads serve as a cautionary tale for those who put off tomorrow what they could do today so far as reconciliations go with others. Oh and rest in peace amigo until we (hopefully) meet again in a much better place!!!

Eternal rest grant unto Chris' soul oh Lord and let thy Perpetual Light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace with all the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God. Amen.

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